Singapore — Chinese ethanol imports slumped 73.2% month on month to 25,178 cu m in December last year, with both denatured and undenatured imports falling month on month, latest customs data showed.
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On a year-on-year basis, however, the ethanol imports had spiked from 33 cu m in December 2017.
Denatured ethanol shipments to China fell 91.4% month on month to 5,758 cu m in December. Indonesia remained the main supplier with 3,226 cu m, versus 59,924 cu m supplied in November. Another 2,524 cu m of denatured ethanol was from South Africa, down from 3,162 cu m in November. Only a negligible volume was from Malaysia.
Meanwhile, a total of 19,425 cu m of undentured ethanol passed Chinese customs in December 2018, down 28.5% month on month, according to the data. Pakistani products continued to flow into China, totaling 19,423 cu m in December, down from 27,159 cu m in November 2018.
Pakistani producers have, however, reported a shortage of molasses in the current 2018-2019 season, which could lead to a few factories in Pakistan being shuttered in the last quarter of 2019.
For 2018, China imported a total of 1,034,553 cu m of ethanol, sharply up from 21,883 cu m in 2017. Of that total, 758,770 cu m was denatured ethanol, with the US accounting for 521,070 cu m. Indonesia and Malaysia accounted for 98,757 cu m and 88,358 cu m, respectively. Traders, however, said that the Malaysian and Indonesian cargoes were likely of US-origin and re-exported to China.
In China, ethanol factories were starting to shutdown ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in early February. The domestic fuel ethanol price was reported at Yuan 5,400/mt, or $627/cu m, ex-factory East China, and Yuan 5,100/mt in North China. Chinese industrial ethanol was pegged at Yuan 4,950/mt or $584/cu m, ex-factory North China and Yuan 5200/mt in East China.
As for exports, China shipped 3,694 cu m of undenatured ethanol in December, with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea taking 3,420 cu m.
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